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Family Court Services to Improve

Media Statement – for immediate release 9 September 2008

Family Court Services to Improve

“As the largest provider of Family Court counselling in New Zealand, Relationship Services is delighted that the Family Court is improving the services available to support families during separation”, said Jeff Sanders, Chief Executive of Relationship Services.

The changes to the Family Court passed by Parliament last Friday include allowing for children’s voices to be heard, introducing a new formal mediation process as an option, and a number of other changes which will improve services to families who are separating.

“We know that Family Court counselling helps parents cope with the stress of separation, and to find ways of sharing the parenting of their children that works,” said Mr Sanders. “This Bill enables children to be seen as part of this process, allowing parents to hear their children’s wishes, without drawing them into the decision making process.”

“Our experience and research has shown that better outcomes are possible for children and families when children’s voices are heard”.

“We hope that the inclusion of children will signal a more user-friendly process that honours whanau involvement.”

While the Bill was passed by Parliament last Friday, it is not yet known when new provisions around children participating in the counselling process and family mediation will come into effect.

Relationship Services worked with 8,600 parents last year throughout New Zealand to help them work out day to day care and contact arrangements. It also runs the Parenting through Separation courses in many communities.


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